It is impossible to talk about one national landscape. The landscape is always becoming something, collecting processes of ideation, formulation, development, memory and decay. Based on this premise, we begin the development of our intervention as Colectivo LOFscapes in the second version of the Work in Progress FADEU “National Landscape” held during the month of May at the Campus Lo Contador. In today’s column we briefly explain part of the process.
“Cartography, as an interpretative record of the evolution of the soil and its cultural occupation, becomes the temporary support of the landscape. From this, the topographic profile emerges as the summits of two mountain ranges that frame the continuous − but not perpetual − central valley.
In this exhibition, this vibration of the elevation sustains a series of landscapes seen through the critical lens of landscape architecture. As in the 19th century, in which the national identity was based on the printed propagation of seasoned explorers’ campaigns, this exhibition frames these landscapes on postcards, making them circulate again among the inhabitants of a National Landscape.” (1)
(1) FADEU, Catálogo de la exposición (Exhibition catalog) ‘Work in Progress FADEU, Paisaje Nacional’ (Santiago: FADEU, Mayo 2017)
We were invited as the Colectivo LOFscapes to participate in the second version of the WiP – FADEU Work in Progress – in May of this year. The exhibition and a series of talks and discussions brought together an interdisciplinary group of designers, artists, architects, acoustic engineers, and students under the theme of “the National Landscape.”
Just as we presented ourselves in the exhibition Catalog that opened this column, as an exhibition team we defined the National Landscape as one in process and for that reason as multiple. We recognize this diversity through the selection of 12 sites each addressed in a column, an infographic, a cycle route, a drone flight, represented in 12 types of postcards, each with an image and a critical text related to the publication on this website. To get these postcards to the public and colonize the space allocated within the exhibition, we had to define a support for the postcards, which − after reflections and studies of stability and material − was defined as a pedestal. Its shape would be associated with the topography of Chile, with the understanding of its role as a matrix of a territory defined by the seismic fault that folds constantly throughout almost all of continental Chile. In this way, the fractured sections of the Andes Mountains and the Coastal Range − both defined by their high peaks − became what sustained the selected landscapes.
The definition of the topographic sections is referenced in the Atlas de la Geografía Física de la República de Chile (Atlas of Physical Geography of the Republic of Chile) by Amado Pissis published in 1875 (see image 2) and is made by applying geo-referenced information survey techniques to produce a model (scale 1: 3,150,000), which was deformed to increase the stability of the pedestal, distancing the mountain ranges to show the topographic vibration of the profile, exaggerating its height three times.
During the round table discussion held on Tuesday May 23 in the framework of WiP 2017, two questions were asked that we would like to mention in relation to the exhibition. The first, asked by Osvaldo Moreno, Head of the Master’s Program in Landscape Architecture UC, urged us to reflect on what the change of format from digital to physical material meant for us.
We find it interesting to continue questioning what it means to exhibit our work and that of our collaborators in a virtual platform, without physical support, where the user − the reader − is hidden in the anonymity of the virtual and from whom we only record traces in the form of statistics. In this sense, exhibiting was an opportunity to express ourselves through another format of communication in which an idea occupied a physical space. Through this space we could catch the reader in the act of collecting, in the act of actually taking a postcard. In effect, when the support contained no more postcards, this was evidence of the dissemination of images and critical thoughts about the national landscape.
The second was posed to both exhibitors (designer Pedro Álvarez and LOFscapes) by Wren Strabucchi architect and researcher, who questioned the omission of the representation of the landscape experience from its closest scale in the two assemblages. He wondered about the interpretation of the mountain range as presented off in the distance, the backdrop of our cities, where the urban inhabitant can recognize the presence of this geographical prominence by the contrast with the city. The words of Professor Strabucchi resonate in our interest to overcome nineteenth-century imaginaries associated with the city-nature contrast, in which the figure of the urban is understood as an accumulation of social, psychological and hygienic risks, and nature is perceived as the salvation to these vices. We highlight that, in this context today, speaking of landscape implies associating man with his environment, understanding from ecology that his survival depends on the stability of natural systems and from culture that his experience as an inhabitant depends on his proximity to the matter that builds the landscape.
Finally, we wish to thank those who visited the exhibition and who today have one or more postcards in their hands, the project director Gloria Saravia, and her team for inviting us to participate and for organizing this enriching experience with their hard work and dedication.